Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Sept.  6, 2013)

The Moral High Ground

By Bob Cooper


You just canít please some people.  Vancouver Chief Constable Jim Chu, who is also the President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, recently criticized a deplorable lack of government resources dedicated to caring for the mentally ill which places the police in the de facto position of front-line responders when it comes to dealing with them.

I wrote about this 5 years ago, Policing and the mentally ill, and what has changed since then?  Not a single thing and while most believe this is the result of neglect by an uncaring government, the Vancouver Sunís Ian Mulgrew sees it a little differently:  Treating mentally ill as criminals wrong solution.   According to Ian the government is completely blameless and it's really the fault of greedy Chief Constables and Judges who are stealing money from the pockets of the mentally ill and drug-addicted by prosecuting them for 'minor, non-violent offences' (note - it's always minor until it happens to you).  Ian claims that their combined avarice literally forced politicians to cut social services.


While I canít speak for the judges here, Ianís portrayal of Chief Chu as a voracious hog who squanders public dollars freely is very much at odds with the view of many Vancouver police officers who feel he ought to be a little bolder when it comes to demanding increases in manpower and funding while his handling of the budget reminds others of a colleague on the old Traffic ĎAí Shift who was renowned for his thrift (and a great sense of humour Ė he used to brag that he was so cheap he wouldnít even pay attention).  I also find Ianís criticism a little baffling because Chief Chu and most of Vancouverís judges are known for their Ďprogressiveí views, many of which are similar to his.     

Iím all for increasing the funding for treatment because as hardened as those of us who worked down there have become, you canít help but feel some sympathy for them.  On the practical side, for every addict you get off the street you spare thousands the pain of being his victim over the course of his life.  Iíd go a step further and make treatment in a custodial setting mandatory for any offence which is obviously the result of the accusedís addiction and you canít just show up.  Youíd have to participate and successfully complete the program before you get out.  All drug addicts are con men and liars and when you are so ďaddledĒ that you have to commit crime and victimize others you forfeit the right to make certain decisions.

The idea of funding more Ďsocial workers, teachers, nurses and caregiversí by slashing cops, lawyers, and judges is just another utopian pipe-dream because as laudable as treatment is, most addicts relapse and become re-involved in crime so youíre always going to need us.  Whether you like it or not.   

Finally, speaking of tax dollars letís not forget the $16 million the Christy Clark Liberal government gave to the mainstream news media to run blatantly partisan ads (and not mention a plethora of scandals) prior to the last election.  Not only was it wrong but that money would have hired lots of Ďsocial workers, teachers, nurses, and caregiversí.  An ethical, responsible media outlet would have refused the money and would have made the mere offer a news story but times are tough and ethics are in short supply these days.  Ianís employer, the Vancouver Sun?  Lined up at the trough with the rest of them.

Spare me the claim to the moral high ground.



Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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